YEREVAN — A group of U.S. lawmakers voiced support for Armenia’s territorial integrity and praised the Armenian government for implementing democratic reforms and seeking closer ties with the West as they ended a four-day visit to the country on Friday.

The bipartisan delegation comprising three senators and five congressmen met Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, other senior Armenian officials and opposition lawmakers.

“We are here as friends and we want to strengthen our partnership,” Ben Cardin (D-MD), chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told a joint news conference with other members of the delegation and Armenian parliament speaker Alen Simonian.

“We want to expand ties between our countries in the security, economic and political fields and we will try to find ways of building on the progress made by us,” Cardin said.

The lawmakers endorsed the Armenian government’s efforts to end the conflict with Azerbaijan. Cardin hit out at Russia in that context, saying that Moscow is “no friend to reaching the final agreements with Azerbaijan.”

Roger Wicker (R-MS), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, claimed, for his part, that Russia does not want to see democracy and freedom in Armenia and is unhappy with significant progress made by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s administration on that front.

Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC), who heads the mostly congressional U.S. Helsinki Commission, described Armenia as an “important partner” of the United States, saying that it is trying to “distance itself” from Russia and move closer to the West. The Pashinyan government’s “independent foreign policy” is countering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to “restore the Soviet Union,” Wilson said, adding that the U.S. should help to make the South Caucasus country more resilient to external pressure.

RA NA Speaker Alen Simonyan received the US congressional delegation on July 5. The small-group meeting was followed by the extended-group meeting, in which RA NA deputies also participated.

Welcoming the guests, Speaker Simonyan thanked the USA for its continuous support to Armenia’s democratic vision.

“The United States has continuously supported Armenia’s democratic vision and significantly contributed to the strengthening of democratic institutions and the rule of law and the protection of human rights in Armenia. In this context, we attach great importance to the role of the United States in the process of establishing peace in our region and highly appreciate the support of the United States to the sovereignty, independence, democracy, territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of Armenia, based on the 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration,” said Alen Simonyan.

At the core of the discussions were the peace treaty, Armenian-Turkish relations, the repatriation of Armenian prisoners held in Azerbaijan and the preservation of the Armenian historical and cultural heritage of Nagorno Karabakh. The “Crossroads of Peace” project developed by the RA government was presented to the American guests.

The US Congressional Delegation Inspects Sections of Armenian-Azerbaijani Border

During their visit to Armenia, the U.S. Congressional Delegation visited a section of Armenian-Azerbaijani in Vayots Dzor, where they met representatives of the EU civilian mission and reviewed the situation on the border.

 

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